Susan Morrison: Clean for the Queen? Boris is talking rubbish

Boris Johnson launches the Clean for the Queen campaign. Picture: contributed
Boris Johnson launches the Clean for the Queen campaign. Picture: contributed
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A CANDIDATE for the office of mayor of New York City once said his main job would be to get the bins emptied. Very true, I always thought. Boris Johnson should bear that in mind.

The last time I was in London the streets weren’t paved with gold, but they were strewn with an astonishing amount of litter.

Boris is now exhorting the peasantry to pick up for free by endorsing a campaign called Clean for the Queen.

There’s a photo of him in a T-shirt a tad too tiny with a specially chosen bit of brown paper on the end of one of those pick-up sticks and a purple bag slung over one shoulder. All he needs is someone to write ‘Swag’ across it to make him look like a particularly dim burglar.

Clean for the Queen sounds like a wizard wheeze dreamt up in the leafy lanes of Chipping Norton, where most of our rulers seem to live these

days.

Her Maj may indeed have reason to pop along to this rural idyll. After all, some of them are actually related to her, albeit distantly. Thus it is in the interests of the inhabitants to keep the place spruce.

Of course, most of the Chipper set are so wealthy they could just send the staff out for a quick once-over on the pavement once they’ve finished hoovering the chandelier or polishing the Labradors.

Yes, the chances of Liz dropping into the Chipping Norton Olde Mill Coffee House are probably a great deal higher than seeing her suddenly appear in La Cerise in Great Junction Street but, nevertheless, we are all being exhorted to Clean for the Queen.

It’s her birthday, you see. She must have glanced out of the windows at Balmoral and thought: “Jings, look at the state of this place, let’s get the joint cleaned up for my birthday.”

Mind you, if Balmoral is awash with litter, what on earth are the estate workers up to?

Well, I for one am happy that the Queen has made it to the Big 9-0, but I do have a fairly rebellious streak when it comes to royalty, so I wonder if we could change this initiative from Clean for the Queen to Clean for a Queen? Personally, I’d go for Mary of Guise. She’s my

favourite.

Anti-litter message was not wasted on me at school

It’s a strange thing, litter. Back in the 1960s, the Keep Britain Tidy campaign came into my primary school with posters and stickers. The stickers were rubbish so, ironically, as we all ran home to tell our mums not to drop litter, the stickers tended to peel off and land in the gutters.

This didn’t stop my little classmates and I becoming infected with a sort of messianic fervour and scouring our playground for stray crisp pokes and soggy fag packets that fell out of the staff room window.

Those people must have grown up like me, utterly resistant to the idea of actually dropping something on the street.

I recall when the kids were young, and in the manner of all small children, they would only sook half the lollipop they had created a scene to get.

That half-sooked sweetie, or its wrapping, could no more be dumped on the pavement than my daughter could be dumped in the bin. Trust me, she pushed it sometimes.

That sticky mess would get wrapped in a bit of paper dug out of my pocket and be lugged about until I safely dispose of it. The lolly, that is, not the kid. Like I say, sometimes I was tempted . . .

My kids had the message that litter is rude hammered into them, just as my classmates must have.

So who is dropping all the litter swirling about the streets now?

We need more collections but that’s no excuse

They did a lovely job in the Kirkgate, with nice new shiny flag stones put down, the needle removed and benches re-sited.

Within an hour, a dog had dumped on it and there was already that fringe of paper and packets we know and love so well.

To be fair, the litter bin in the Kirkgate was very full, and there was a bit of a breeze, so stuff was getting blown about.

Should the bins be emptied more often? Probably, but our council is cash-strapped, and it only takes a bit of thought to help ourselves keep our streets cleaner.

Sorry Lizzie, let’s pick it up for ourselves

Leithers don’t, or at least shouldn’t, litter. But someone does.

The brilliant Leithers Don’t Litter campaign cleaned up the play park round the corner. Two days later, the bits of cardboard and half-empty plastic bottles were already creeping back.

So, should we clean up for the Queen? Why not just clean up for ourselves? Let’s pick up litter just because, to quote a famous advert, we deserve it.

But let’s get the message out to everyone that dropping litter in the first place is just rude.